Tagged Questions

The diachronic study of language and its evolution.

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3
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0answers
18 views

Why do PIE verbs have suffixes -m-, -s-, -t-, while personal pronouns have m-, t-, s-?

Usually it is assumed that in PIE the verb forms for the singular first, second, and third person are respectively -m-, -s-, -t- (cfr. Latin). The personal pronouns, instead, have the second and ...
2
votes
1answer
52 views

Do certain features of a languages change faster on average ?

As for historical linguistics, it is about how features of language change. I stumpled upon here about people writing about grammaticalization, tonogenesis, transformation from one typology to the ...
0
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0answers
32 views

How is semantic change coped with in judiciary? [on hold]

What difficulties induced by semantic change do jurists have to encounter while formulating new texts and using old texts?
6
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3answers
115 views

Are there documented languages that evolved from tonal to nontonal?

There is a theory about tonogenesis for the Chinese language, thus Chinese had once a more complex syllable-structure and no tones. In the course of time, the syllable structure became less complex ...
3
votes
1answer
49 views

Origin of Russian class 6 and class 10 verbs

In Russian, class 10 contains only a handful of verbs ending in either -олоть or -ороть. On the other hand, looking at the list in Wiktionary, class 6 contains only one verbs in -рать (орать) and ...
1
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0answers
49 views

How polysemic on average were Chinese words around the time of the creation of Chinese characters?

If you look up a Chinese character and its meaning in classical Chinese, there is a good chance you get a long list with many different semantically unrelated meanings. Take 而 for instance, that bears ...
4
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0answers
44 views

Where can I learn more about the 'linguistic center of gravity' theory?

"The linguistic center of gravity principle states that a language family's most likely point of origin is in the area of its greatest diversity." (Wikipedia ...
0
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0answers
34 views

What stages of emergence of linguistic features are proposed among the world of scholars?

In biology, there is a simple two stages distinction of the emergence of life: Abiogenesis, the emergence of a (very simple) life form from non-living matter. Evolution, the further emergence of ...
2
votes
1answer
64 views

What are considered to be driving forces behind grammaticalization?

It is my understanding that grammaticalization is a fancy way of saying that words that contain a lexical meaning can change over time into words that gradually lose their lexical function, but then ...
3
votes
3answers
103 views

Is there a trend toward more homophones over time? What can counteract that trend?

It is my understanding (correct me if I am wrong) that many homophones develop as a result of phonemic mergers. For instance, I, like many Americans, have a "cot-caught" merger where I do not make a ...
2
votes
1answer
52 views

Examples of discrete place-of-articulation changes

Most sound changes that involve consonantal place of articulation are gradual changes between two POAs that are contiguous: for example, a velar gets gradually fronted until it becomes a palatal. What ...
1
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0answers
78 views

Is there a compilation of the various etymologies of the words for “library” across Europe?

The various European languages (as a geographic entity, and excluding the Uralics) present an interesting distribution in their words for "library". In particular, English, Irish, Welsh, Basque, ...
3
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2answers
137 views

Help me find an early Old Norse dictionary (or even a grammar)

For some time I've been looking for a dictionary of Old Norse that reflects an early situation in the language; this kind of resource has been amazingly hard to find, for some reason. Most ...
0
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0answers
97 views

Translation of “Beowulf”

In the brief span of time I have studied this ancient poem, particularly verses 1829-30, I have read several translations. While observing each individual rendering of the text, it was evident to me ...
0
votes
1answer
42 views

What is the word “spirituality” derived from? [closed]

What is the word spirtuality or spirit derived from? Is it's origin based on the Christian idea of the Holy Ghost, or perhaps something earlier, like how the Greeks and Romans believed in spirits? ...
4
votes
2answers
126 views

Is there a PIE feminising noun suffix?

I was wondering whether anyone knows the Proto-Indo-European equivalent of the Greek suffixes -ina (-ίνα) or -issa (-ισσα), or whether PIE has any different feminising suffixes that work similarly?
-2
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1answer
78 views

Is Classical Hebrew an Indo-European language?

Is Classical/Biblical Hebrew an Indo-European language? And/or - To what extent is Classical/Biblical Hebrew an Indo-European language?
4
votes
1answer
85 views

What were allophone rules for [r] in Old English and Middle English?

I gather that [r] (trill) was realized as [ɹ] in different dialects of Old English and Middle English, but when [r] was used, was it an allophone? In other words, did [r] vary predictably with [ɹ] ...
2
votes
2answers
397 views

What is this language? Is it an ancient language?

I have recently procured an artefact, which was excavated in Yemen. At the bottom of the artefact there is engraving as shown in the picture. Some of the letters (on two sides) look like Egyptian ...
3
votes
1answer
78 views

Consonantal innovations in Hungarian

The Hungarian language seems to have many phonetic features uncommon in other Uralic languages- for example, phonemic voicing in its stops and sibilants and the presence of a labiodental fricative ...
-1
votes
2answers
111 views

Word elements relating to ancient deities [closed]

Are there word elements, including suffixes, from Old English or other languages that have been linked to their ancient deities and the people that served them, to which these elements are still in ...
2
votes
1answer
118 views

Origin of world languages

I am currently setting to investigate on a subject in the history of languages, but as a self-taught outsider I am stuck before finding out some key words to start searching the Web. I want to ...
5
votes
3answers
190 views

Is there some intrinsic relationship between the nominative plural and genitive singular?

In Latin the similarity between the nominative plural and genitive singular is most striking: First: porta (Nom/Sing) and portae (Nom/Pl), portae (Gen/Sing) and portarum (Gen/Pl) Second: servus ...
3
votes
1answer
95 views

Jedediah → Jebediah: how?

Possibly, the name Jebediah derives from the name Jedediah. If so, then what phonological phenomenon is this an example of, and what are other examples of it?
-1
votes
1answer
118 views

Why some languages have developed so difficult compared to others?

Finnish is one of the most difficult language in the world. Swedish is one of the most easiest language in the world. Finland and Sweden are geographically located next to each other. What is the ...
10
votes
2answers
194 views

Current status of the controversy on the date of Indo-European dispersion

There are two conflicting theories about the dispersion of the people speaking proto-Indo-European (by which I mean the common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, excluding Hittite and other ...
4
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0answers
96 views

What is known or believed about the origin of Semitic-type root-and-template morphology?

How does nonconcatenative morphology of the Semitic type (consonantal roots, vocalic templates + affixes) arise diachronically? It's pretty easy to see how a nonconcatenative inflectional system ...
7
votes
0answers
163 views

How diachronically stable are color terms?

I have two questions concerning words for colors, one specific and one general. First, Beekes in Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction (p. 181) reconstructs a PIE suffix –no- that ...
-1
votes
4answers
321 views

Why is Edenics not recognized as a serious linguistic theory?

Many people know the Biblical tale of the Tower of Babel, when God broke apart the world's singular language into 70 different branches. Most linguists don't give this a second thought, or anything ...
3
votes
2answers
106 views

Germanic comparative grammars?

Can anyone recommend a good comparative grammar of the Germanic languages -- or, failing that, good historical grammars specifically for Old English and Old Norse? Ideally, what I want is a ...
3
votes
1answer
134 views

Use of forks/chopsticks and sound change?

Apparently [European] humans had an ape-like bite until relatively recently, with our top and bottom incisors aligned along their edges. With the invention of the fork around 250 years ago, our ...
7
votes
2answers
226 views

What did the Greeks and Romans believe about language relationships?

The ancient Greeks and Romans had no concept of historical linguistics or of the Indo-European language family. However, it would have been noticeable to anyone who spoke even a little of both Greek ...
9
votes
2answers
283 views

Are Old French and French mutually intelligible?

In Les visiteurs (The Visitors), two Frenchman from 1123 are transported to 1993. In the movie, the visitors from 1123 can understand the speech of the modern French people in 1993, and vice versa, ...
5
votes
3answers
851 views

Why are many ancient languages so complicated compared to many modern languages?

Many ancient languages have a structure that is more complex than that of the "respective" modern languages. Modern languages like English have simpler structure, without case, gender or declination, ...
6
votes
0answers
332 views

Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French number words from eleven to nineteen - history of a bizarre, inconsistent construction

Following Sklivvz's advice, I propose here a question I made in Italian Language. Because I am not sure how I should do this, I will just copy/paste the whole lot. Let's count in Latin from one to ...
6
votes
4answers
307 views

Did a “cave man-style” language ever exist?

I recently had a discussion with a friend about whether a "cave man-style" language was likely to have ever existed. You know, the stereotypical "Fire bad! Need hunt, go tree-place now!" sort of ...
0
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0answers
63 views

Wanderwort origins and the Indus Valley Civilization?

I have noticed that there seem to be many words that have travelled the globe due to trade, such as the word orange or rice, which have plausible origins in proto-Dravidian. Meanwhile, it is ...
3
votes
1answer
168 views

How did a logographic orthography like Chinese organize its word-stock before any type of phonetic notation?

Let's say you were to to pick up a dictionary and look up a word in Chinese before the advent of any type of phonetic notation system such as Pinyin or Bopomofo. How would words in that dictionary be ...
3
votes
2answers
126 views

The “affectee-subject HAVE” construction in English

English has a somewhat unusual construction exemplified by sentences like the following: He had his car stolen. He had his house repossessed. He's had three books published. These are different ...
0
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0answers
69 views

Writer/math student seeking an overview of linguistics. Help?

I am a math and statistics student/enthusiast as well as a fiction writer with cultivated interest in a few foreign languages. Linguistics has held appeal to me for many years, but I admit to having ...
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0answers
52 views

Grice's cooperative principless

Based on Pragmatics Approach, there is one of the principle that involves in communication. It is cooperative principle. This principle consists of 4 maxims. There are maxim of quality (Truthful), ...
1
vote
1answer
523 views

Missing Devanagari letters in Hindi

Sanskrit and Hindi both use the Devanagari script. It it interesting to note that there are letters which are used by only one of these languages and not the other. Used only in Sanskrit are letters ...
6
votes
1answer
201 views

How do we know that Ancient Greek didn't have ejectives?

Ancient Greek had a three way contrast between voiced, unvoiced, and aspirated stops. It seems to be assumed that the unvoiced stops were pulmonic, but how do we know this? A fact that may or may not ...
1
vote
1answer
206 views

Linguistics, a discipline or a field?

This is a two-fold level questions. Question about linguistics from the view point of linguistics. I am interested whether linguistics is a field of science/research or is it a discipline? The next ...
1
vote
2answers
766 views

Why is English spelling so inconsistent?

English spelling is in many respects not phonetic and there is often no one-to-one mapping between spelling and pronunication. E.g. 'a' is /ej/ or /ey/ instead of /a/ as in Albert 'c' is /s/ not ...
2
votes
1answer
123 views

Word list sought based on corpus of 19th century scientific English

I am currently working on an M.Phil thesis which is focusing on topic modelling 19th century journals. The journals in question are science, literature and antiquities based. I have extracted the ...
2
votes
1answer
346 views

In which modern-day country's borders did Arabic start?

We had a discussion going in the Travel Chat about where the Arabic language originated (assuming borders had stayed the same throughout history). Some websites have suggested Egypt, others Yemen, ...
4
votes
5answers
486 views

Are there countries in the world whose names differ in different languages, apart from Germany?

Germany is called with different names in different languages, as a result of the different tribes who populated it through time, who originated the names. A comprehensive reference for this is in the ...
2
votes
3answers
91 views

What is the most ancient form of Armenian verb 'to be'?

The infinitive form of the verb in Eastern Armenian (provided there are infinitives) is a suppletive 'linEl'. I am surprised to notice its resemblance to most Finno-Ugric words of similar meaning, ...
2
votes
1answer
136 views

What is the history of Eastern and Western Armenian dialects?

Are there any regular phonetical correspondences between grammatical patterns of both dialects? Which one is thought to be the 'real' Armenian? When and how did the dialects split? Is Western ...